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JAFARI v. WALLY FINDLAY GALLERIES

July 6, 1990

NERCY JAFARI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WALLY FINDLAY GALLERIES AND DENNIS DILORENZO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweet, District Judge.

OPINION

Dr. Nercy Jafari ("Jafari") has moved under Rule 15, Fed.R.Civ.P., to amend his complaint to name additional defendants in his breach of contract action against Dennis DiLorenzo ("DiLorenzo"). DiLorenzo has moved for summary judgment on Jafari's contract claim and opposes his motion to amend. For the reasons set forth below, DiLorenzo's motion for summary judgment is granted, and Jafari's motion to amend is denied.

Parties

Plaintiff Jafari is a surgeon and a resident of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Defendant DiLorenzo is a New York resident working as a fine art consultant, both independently and as an employee of W.C.F. Galleries.*fn1

Prior Proceedings

Jafari commenced this action for breach of contract in April 1989, demanding both compensatory and punitive damages. DiLorenzo moved to dismiss the complaint on July 11, 1989 and the motion was denied in an opinion dated September 25, 1989.

On February 9, 1990, Jafari filed a motion to amend his complaint to name two additional defendants: Herbert Batliner, the Painting's alleged owner at the time of the events in question, for breach of the alleged contract, and Renee Fotouhi, who ultimately bought the Painting from DiLorenzo and sold it through Sotheby's to Jafari, for tortious interference with the alleged contract.

On February 22, 1990, DiLorenzo filed a motion for summary judgment. Oral arguments from both parties were heard on March 9, 1990, and the motions are considered fully submitted as of that date.

Facts

Jafari and DiLorenzo met by chance in October 1987 outside the New York art gallery where DiLorenzo worked. Jafari expressed his interest in acquiring a painting by Salvador Dali. DiLorenzo informed him that the gallery had no Dalis, but also told him that he knew of a Dali for sale. Jafari gave DiLorenzo his name and address, and DiLorenzo sent him some transparencies of Dali's "Grand Opera" (the "Painting").

Shortly thereafter, Jafari visited New York City to view the Painting and to discuss price terms with DiLorenzo. DiLorenzo rejected Jafari's first offer, and soon told Jafari that he would only be able to offer the painting until December 31, 1987, the owner's deadline. Before Jafari would agree to buy the painting, he wanted the original certificate of authenticity (the "provenance"), which DiLorenzo was unable to provide.

On January 26, 1988, the Christie's expert assured Jafari that the Painting was authentic. Outside Christie's, in DiLorenzo's car, DiLorenzo and Jafari negotiated the terms of the transaction. DiLorenzo claims that he wrote the terms on his letterhead stationery because it was the only paper available. He also claims that his initials on the paper refer only to a price change (from $212,000 to $210,000), and not to authenticate the writing as a binding agreement. However, even at this time, Jafari was demanding that DiLorenzo furnish the provenance.

DiLorenzo finally obtained a letter from noted Dali expert Robert Decharnes attesting to the authenticity of the Painting. On February 13, 1988, DiLorenzo met with Jafari in New York City to discuss the letter. DiLorenzo claims Jafari said he would pay the $210,000 in a certified check*fn2 by February 16, 1988.*fn3 However, DiLorenzo did not ...


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